Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 6

FROM OUR PRESIDENT

The Color of Unity:
Forming a More
Perfect Union

Connect
with Esther:
elim@dcbar.org

"These challenging
times present
opportunities for
lawyers to lead
and promote
justice and
equality not for
a chosen few,
but for all."

A

s a result of my tenure as the founding managing partner of Finnegan's Shanghai office, my
daughters spent their formative years in China, growing up in an international melting pot of
expatriates from around the globe alongside an array of local and transplant Chinese. Their
experience was far different from the one I became accustomed to growing up as an immigrant
in America.
Leaving my motherland in Korea 35 years ago, I found my new homeland in America shaded in new
and strange colors: red, white, and, blue; black and white; and yellow, which for the first time in my life
became a color associated with my identity. What had unconsciously become normalized for me over
time bubbled up to my consciousness years later during my residence in China.
One day, while speaking with my then four-year-old daughter Nora, I realized that she had no concept of
race or how to describe people using labels. Curious to get a glimpse into her world, I asked: "What color
are you?" Looking perplexed, she responded without hesitation: "Why, I am skin colored." It hit me like
lightning.
In her eyes, people were people, no matter the color. To her, black, brown, yellow, and white were
purely chromatic terms, not shades of human skin. The latter association would not occur until after
she moved back to America. Here, skin color seems to draw an invisible yet palpable line in many ways:
wealth, neighborhoods, schools, jobs, and access to justice.
Unfortunately, as we witnessed in disbelief the tragedy of the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots just a year ago,
it seems that color still matters. That such fervent white supremacist sentiments could exist in D.C.'s
backyard triggers deep concern, and should rally lawyers to speak up for diversity and unity.
The eagle's beak in the Great Seal of the United States holds a scroll inscribed with these sacred words:
E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Just as the original Thirteen Colonies united and emerged as a single
nation, so must we rise as one community in times of growing division and uncertainty. As advocates,
lawyers can model how to disagree without being disagreeable. As counselors, lawyers can exemplify
how to engage in discourse without being hateful.
As an immigrant, as an American, and as a lawyer, I am reminded that the highest law of this nation was
created "in Order to form a more perfect Union [and to] establish Justice." That "more perfect Union" may
not be "perfect" for any one person, but "more perfect" for every person. These challenging times present
opportunities for lawyers to lead and promote justice and equality not for a chosen few, but for all.
Diversity has long been a hallmark of our nation infused with different perspectives, thoughts, and beliefs.
Those differences do not diminish the strength of our community, but rather enhance the richness of our
country.
In the current climate of increasing division, I am reminded of my daughter's childlike response and
wonder: What is the color of unity? What is the true color of our nation representative of "We the People"?
I imagine the color of unity in all shades of beautiful - a kaleidoscope of colors reflecting an array of
races, religions, and cultures.
Nora is nine years old now, and I haven't asked her recently what color she is. If I do, I hope her answer
would be exactly the same.

Photo: Patrice Gilbert Photography

6

WASHINGTON LAWYER

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: After Parkland: Student Protests & Free Speech
Feature: Post-Brown
Feature: Remembering RFK
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Campus Connection
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 1
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 2
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 3
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 4
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 5
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 9
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 11
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 13
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 15
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Feature: After Parkland: Student Protests & Free Speech
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 17
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 18
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 19
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 20
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 21
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Feature: Post-Brown
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 23
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 24
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 25
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 26
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 27
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Feature: Remembering RFK
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 29
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 30
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 31
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 32
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 33
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 35
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 37
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 39
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 43
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 44
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 45
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 47
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 48
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 49
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Campus Connection
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 51
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - Last Word
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